(Post 1 of a series of 3)
In the December 25th devotion from his classic devotional My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes: “Jesus Christ was born into this world; not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of – He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate – God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors.”
I want you to take careful notice of that last line: “His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors.” What was that most humble of doors? It was the womb of a young Jewish virgin.
I dare say that none of us can fully wrap our minds around this truth. Jesus (the son of God, God the Son) laid aside His power and glory, left heaven, invaded time and history, and in some miraculous way that we cannot fathom became a human fetus in the belly of young Jewish girl who was not officially married and had never had sexual relations with a man.
Is it any wonder that the liberals and skeptics have a hard time swallowing that? They say, “Oh, what a fantasy! What a fairy tale for adults!” Or they say, “The whole notion is just Christianity’s way of mimicking the traditions of the pagan religions in which the mythic gods and heroes supposedly sprang from supernatural sources.”
Sadly, such criticisms have surely taken their toll. Even amongst certain preachers of our day, there are some who say, “It doesn’t really matter whether or not you believe that Jesus was born to a virgin. The important thing is just to believe in Him. Let’s not make a big deal out of the virgin birth. At best, it is a minor issue and a secondary doctrine.”
But is this the attitude that we should take? Certainly not! Christ’s virgin birth is not a minor issue or a secondary doctrine. Not only is it a major issue, it is also a foundational doctrine. And this is what I’m going to show you through the three posts of a series I’m calling “Why We Should Believe In The Virgin Birth.”
Now, with this first post I want to say that we should believe in the virgin birth because scripture demands it. You need to know that the Bible distinctly teaches that Mary was a virgin when she conceived baby Jesus in her womb. Follow with me and I’ll give you the references.
First, in Matthew 1:18, the Bible says: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”
Second, in Matthew 1: 24-25, we read: “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.”
Third, Luke 1:26-27 says: “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.”
Fourth, Luke 1:34 says of Mary after Gabriel had told her that she was going to conceive a son: “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?'”
By the way, in these New Testament passages that specifically use the word “virgin”, the Greek word that is translated is parthenos. It is the same word that was used in the naming of the famous Parthenon, which was the Greek temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena. So, yes, the Bible really does teach that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb.
Of course, I hope that quoting these passages from the gospels of Matthew and Luke is enough evidence for you to agree that scripture demands that we believe in the virgin birth. Sadly, however, it isn’t enough evidence for some people. Consider the following example.
Harry Rimmer, who was a well-known Presbyterian minister of his day, once found himself in a sad situation as he served as a member of the ordination council that was examining a certain young man for ordination into the ministry. To Rimmer’s astonishment the young man boldly stated that he did not believe in the virgin birth of Christ. Even more astonishingly, when some of the other ministers began to sternly question the young man about his position, an older minister from the council spoke up and said, “I don’t want this council to make a big point of this because I don’t accept the virgin birth either.” To that, one of the other ministers asked, “Why not?” The older minister replied, “Because it is only found on two pages of the New Testament. Matthew and Luke are the only ones who ever mention it. In all of the writings of Paul, he never introduces the question of the virgin birth.”
It was at this point that Dr. Rimmer could no longer keep quite. He stood up and said to the older minister, “Tell us then, what do you teach and preach?” The man answered, “The Sermon on the Mount. That is enough for anyone.” Dr. Rimmer said, “It’s not enough for me. I don’t believe in the Sermon on the Mount.” The older minister asked, “Why not?” Dr. Rimmer said, “Because it only occurs on two pages of the New Testament and Matthew and Luke are the only Gospels who mention it.”
Do you see how absurd the older minister’s argument was? Yes, it’s true that Mark never mentions the virgin birth of Christ, but Mark never mentions the birth of Christ at all! Can we assume then that because Mark’s gospel doesn’t mention Christ’s actual birth that Jesus was not born? Of course not! Do you see how absurd it is to say of any doctrine, “That can’t be scriptural because it is only mentioned in two places in the Bible”? How many times does God have to record something for it to become a legitimate doctrine or teaching? So, to sum up, we should believe in the virgin birth because scripture demands it.